Monday 16 May 2016

Our cider apple orchard - five years old

It's been three years now since we planted the cider apple orchard at Tree Farm - a traditional standard standard orchard of 120 trees over about four acres on our land at home - and high time for an update.

There have been a few casualties along the way, but on the whole the trees are thriving, and last year we even had a handful of fruit. But maybe only enough for a couple of bottles of cider...

It takes time. In fact it was two years before the orchard was planted that Mike ordered the trees and their life began in the nursery - so they're five years old now.

And here they are - growing well (along with the grass and weeds around them, but ignore that!) - and with lots of blossom it's possible there we will be enough fruit to harvest this autumn...

I'll try and take some more photos through the season - and capture some of the wildlife living in the orchard, as that was one of the main factors behind the decision to go for a traditional standard orchard over a more intensive commercial orchard. In the meantime, you can read all about the orchard and it's design and planting here.

Friday 28 August 2015

Henney's Autumn Gold - a light, bright medium sweet draught cider

Mike has long been thinking of creating a sparkling draught cider to complement the existing range of bottled ciders. Although it may seem like a small and natural leap - from bottle to keg, from drinks aisle to pub - it's actually an entirely different market with a whole heap of challenges.
This is not entirely unknown territory for Mike - last year saw the launch of Henney's Traditional, the bag in box cider distributed throughout the Midlands by Purity Brewing Company, but this time he wanted to create something with wider appeal - a bright sparkling keg cider.

One of the first considerations is strength. Henney's bottled ciders are typically around 6% abv - and there aren't many pub landlords happy to be dishing out pints at such a strength. So the first thing Mike had to do was blend a slightly lighter cider more suited to pub drinking.

Next there's the tricky issue of distribution. Obviously he has all the logistics in place for producing bottled cider, but the delivery of keg cider into pubs requires an entirely different set of suppliers and equipment. Cider has to be moved - from farm to a bottler geared up to fill kegs, then on to pubs. Branded bar fonts are required, plus supportive material - beer mats and bar runners. And you wouldn't believe how many spare kegs are needed to ensure the cider keeps flowing - some are being filled, some are in pubs, some are empty and on their way back to the bottlers... For every keg sitting in a pub cellar there are two or three more floating around. And stainless steel kegs are not cheap.

Given the challenge of sales and delivery into pubs, a trusted distributor with a good customer base and logistics already in place is what is really needed. And as luck would have it, there is just such a company nearby.... Enter into the story Wye Valley Brewery, Herefordshire's leading cask-ale brewer based just two miles away from Henney's - and following a series of meetings 'just up the road' Mike is delighted to have set up an exclusive arrangement with them to supply his new cider.

And finally there is the matter of a product name, but funnily enough this was already in place. A couple of years ago now Mike noticed that 'Autumn Gold' the old Taunton Cider product, was no longer registered - so he acquired the name. So Henney's Autumn Gold has been registered for some time now - and was just waiting for the right cider to be created...

... and that cider is now ready. Introducing Henney's Autumn Gold  a light, bright medium sweet cider, 4.5% abv, crisp and refreshing with a light sparkle.

With everything now in place, the first pint of Henney's Autumn Gold is ready to be drawn, and Mike is delighted to announce its launch this weekend,  in conjunction with Wye Valley Brewery and Hereford's much loved pub, The Barrel's.

And so, to be the first to try Henney's Autumn Gold head over to the Barrel's today. They are hosting their now infamous Barrel's Beer Festival all over this bank holiday weekend - and will even be handing out free samples of Henney's Autumn Gold, while stocks last.

And with Wye Valley Brewery pubs already starting to order their kegs of Autumn Gold, expect to see it cropping up in more pubs across the area in the weeks and months ahead.


Thursday 20 August 2015

Henney's cider-soaked pork & apple kebabs

I picked up a recipe card in Waitrose last week for a tasty sounding cider and pork recipe.

Sponsored by one of the big boys in the world of cider-making it suggested a different brand of 'cider' (I'm using the term loosely there), but I thought I'd give it a try with a real cider - a bottle of Henney's Dry. I've changed almost all the other ingredients too, plus I swapped the suggested BBQ for a grill (it was raining) so the recipe has become my own. It's nice - give it a try.

Cider Soaked Pork & Apple Kebabs 




½ x 500 ml bottle Henney's Dry Cider
4 tbsp honey
4 cloves garlic, halvedfew sprigs rosemary
420g essential Waitrose British Pork Fillet, cubed
2 easting apples, chunked
8 shallots, halved
1 red pepper, seeded and thickly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil




1. Place the cider in a large glass bowl and stir in 2 tbsp of the honey, the garlic cloves and half the rosemary. Add the pork and leave to soak for an hour or two. Overnight will not hurt.

2. Lift out the pork, discarding the marinade. Thread the meat and vegetables alternately onto skewers, and drizzle with olive oil.

3. BBQ or grill 15–20 minutes, turning regularly until cooked through

4. Chop the remaining rosemary and stir into the remaining honey. Brush onto the skewers and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes until shiny and nicely browned.

Serve with rice, salad and a glass of Henney's.

Monday 18 May 2015

Overall Champion - International Cider & Perry Competition 2015

At Henney's it's always more about producing a decent cider than worrying about marketing and PR, but this week we simply have to blow our trumpet a little...

Yes, there's a bit of celebrating going on as Henney's Cider Company has just been awarded 'Overall Champion' at the 2015 International Cider & Perry Competition.

Mike Henney "delighted"

A prominent event in the cider making world, this year's competition saw 224 entries from 51 cider makers. Entries came in from around the world for the competition held at The Cider Museum Hereford last week, with judging by Nick Bradstock, David Sheppy, Patrick Shave and Julian Temperley

Mike's entry won first prize in the coveted 'Class 1 - Dry Cider' class, and then went on to beat the winners of the other 10 cider and perry classes, to take the highest accolade of the competition, 'Overall Champion'.

The winning cider forms the base cider for the entire Henney's range, so Mike is delighted to have seen it recognised in this way: "I'm delighted to have been awarded this prestigious accolade, especially given the quality of the competition".

Please visit The Cider Museum website for more details, there's a full list of results on the Competition page (and and another grinning photograph of Mike Henney in Latest News...)

Saturday 14 February 2015

Jamie Oliver's Overnight Roasted Pork Shoulder - with Henney's Vintage

It was great to see Jamie Oliver using a bottle of Henney's on his latest show a couple of weeks ago - he cooked an overnight roasted shoulder of pork with a fair few glugs of cider, and we thought we'd have a go at recreating it at home.

If you fancy having a go, the recipe is on Jamie's website here:

We downsized on the pork somewhat (there's only two of us at home so a 5kg joint seemed a bit greedy) and roasted our more moderately sized joint for about six hours. We also swapped the Henney's Dry in the recipe for a bottle of Henney's Vintage (not sure what Mike's thinking was there - fuller flavour? Or maybe he just happened to have Vintage to hand) but otherwise we followed the recipe to a T and it was simple, tasty and worked a treat.

Definitely worth a try - and far, far easier than the last "celebrity chef uses Henney's cider" recipe we had a go at - Tom Kerridge's Hay Baked Chicken. Took us about a month to get rid of all that bloody hay....

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Buying Henney's Cider Online

At the moment Mike doesn't retail his cider directly (it's something we're thinking about...) so for anyone struggling to get hold of a favourite Henney's in their local area, we can recommend a couple of online shops:

Beers of Europe sells a selection of Henney's by the bottle or the case and UK delivery is £7.49

Or The Hop Pocket Wine Company (just up the road from us) sells the entire Henney's range and delivery starts at £9.99.

Friday 11 April 2014

Henney's Traditional draught cider

We are delighted to introduce our new product, Henney's Traditional draught cider, and to announce a distribution arrangement with Purity Brewing Company, one of the UK's fastest growing craft breweries.

'Traditional' is an unfiltered full-bodied still cider, at 6% abv.

Purity supply outlets across the Midlands and will be distributing Henney's Traditional alongside their excellent range of craft brewed beers.